When someone speaks of self-control, what is your initial response? Is it positive? Or not so positive?
For me, it has had the feel of a scolding, a reprimand. “You must use some self-control” or the more shaming, “Have you no self-control?” It seemed pejorative, belittling me for not harnessing my resources to complete a task or to stop a bad habit. It felt like being told to just go over there and be quiet.
It’s true, self-control can be defined as the act of self-denial or controlling your impulses. It can be self-discipline or using willpower.
When it comes to weight loss, it’s often making yourself do something you don’t really want to do: eat less, exercise a lot more, and ignore the hunger – it’s lack, and you can only deny yourself for so long before we want to just have what we want for a change, yes?
That view isn’t so helpful, and as I was walking one morning, I had a thought – does it have to be negative? It felt negative to me, but something begged the question.
For those of you who are familiar with spiritual things, self-control is seen as a virtue. It’s included in the Fruit of the Spirit, but also in other major traditions, it’s seen as a practice to help reach the greater option. Uh huh – that feels more positive.
Try these synonyms on: Self-command and self-possession That feels less random, less negative – more like I get to choose. How about you?
I shared this with a colleague, and her response was like mine – hadn’t thought about it being positive. She said, “It’s not that we can’t have something, it’s that we’re choosing something else. It’s a powerful, moving forward direction. The other is a negative, taking away from direction.”
And we get to choose how we look at it.
Having that self-command means we’re choosing for our best, which means not continuing the behaviors that got us to this point. We’re choosing for our greater goal – to get off the Diet Yo-Yo, get free of the nonsense that goes on in our heads, and let our hearts actually heal so all that “stuff” no longer drives our behavior.
Imagine being free to easily make good choices around food – making them as easily as you make good choices about other things that are important to you — maybe your finances, your work, your integrity, your marriage vows. You know your boundaries, and you choose to keep them.
So what do you think? Would you prefer to hold onto the idea that self-control takes away from you, or that it’s a way of moving forward?